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Legalizing Medical Marijuana Reduces Drunk Driving, New Data Shows

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New data finds a link between states with medical marijuana programs and lower risk of dangerous driving and car accidents. The data belongs to a study in Health Economics that analyzed insurance information and trends from auto companies from 2014 to 2019.

Photo by Anastassiya Bezhekeneva/Getty

RELATED: Regular Cannabis Users Better Drivers Than Casual Consumers, New Study Explains Why

The study found that auto insurance premiums decreased in states with medical marijuana programs due to cars being involved in fewer accidents on the road.

Per the study, premiums dropped by approximately $22 dollars a year after states enabled their medical marijuana programs. Researchers theorize that this is due to fewer car accidents and drunk driving in these states, with drivers substituting alcohol for cannabis.

“Medical cannabis legalization has reduced auto insurance premiums by $1.5 billion in all states that have currently legalized, with the potential to reduce premiums by an additional $900 million if the remaining states were to legalize,” reads the study.

The results are not wholly understood, but the link between legal cannabis and a reduction in drunk driving matters. While driving while high is potentially dangerous and should be avoided and monitored, the fact that legal marijuana might curb drunk driving is important. Statistics claim that drunk driving account for 10,000 deaths a year, accounting for a little under 30% of traffic fatalities.

Marijuana and alcohol use work differently. Despite the fact that both substances alter people’s perceptions, when people use marijuana they tend to stay at home or go to house parties. Alcohol prompts the opposite behavior, encouraging people to drive to bars and clubs.

RELATED: Here’s How Getting High Affects Your Driving, According To New Study

When it comes to driving while high, the phenomenon is complicated, with the data available showing conflicting evidence. While it’s clear that marijuana affects people’s responses and ability to think clearly, its impact on drivers and car accidents needs more research to be understood.

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